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20 December 2018
Featured, Environmental News

Forests – a story of synergy and opportunity

Some may say that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not 'economically viable' or that it might erode someone's income. However, if they do not, these enterprises face higher costs for resources and energy, legislative limits on their operations and an increasing constriction between supply and demand.

They already face increased competition and costs, shortages of raw materials, higher expenses for environmental clean-up, more customer pressure from concerned citizens, boycotts and bad publicity, more regulations, standards and fees and increased competition for the best employees, employee loyalty, health, and the need for meaningful work (Natrass and Altomare 1999). It can be very bad PR for a business when it comes out to be unsustainable.

Today's society is demanding social responsibility

Investment is no longer purely the domain of the elite. More young people, more women, more people from across society are not only directly investing but aware of the impact of their use of money and are making their purchasing and investment choices based on true costs of the commodity (environmentally and socially), not just its purchase cost. They have an awareness now and a scope of choice that was never available before. This puts pressure (hopefully a very positive pressure) on businesses to act in a way that has them be profitable at every level.

ConeCommunications made a nice infographic on what American consumers expect from companies (2017 Cone Communications CSR Study):

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How do we make our choices?
So as consumers, how do we make our choices? How do we know? This requires business and organisations to operate with transparency, accountability and awareness of and using the distinctions of sustainability (Natrass and Altomare 1999). Maybe they will directly act in projects such as land reclamation. Maybe they will work with partner organisations, funding them directly in land reclamation or reforestation, and such as WeForest works with its partner individuals and organisations, enabling their commitment to sustainable development and to being part of the climate solution.

This synergy of growth and potential between reforestation, business and investors and customers is real, somewhat like the ‘three-legged race’ often played by children when teams move forward together in synchrony. In this case, growing forests can move business forward which can move investors forward which can move forest development forwards. The businesses can be ones that directly take the actions for forest development or they can be those that work in partnership to fund it. As consumers and investors and business entities, it is our choice to be part of the problem or to be part of the solution. ‘There is no future without combating climate change, but there is also no future without forests.’ (United Nations Declaration Forests for Climate 2018). And as for the question for ‘Isn’t it too late?’, while ‘the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second-best time is now.’ (ancient Chinese proverb). This is one time I’d be happy with second best.

References
Natrass, B. and Altomare, M. (1999).  The Natural Step for Business. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, USA.
United Nations (2017). Strategic Plan for Forests 2017–2030.

 

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This synergy of growth and potential between reforestation, business and investors and customers is real, somewhat like the ‘three-legged race’ often played by children...

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Cathy Symington

PhD
Ambassador

Cathy is a passionate and compelling educator in environments, sustainability and biological sciences with 15+ years experience as a lecturer.  She is skilled in coaching and consulting in leadership, effectiveness and engagement with over 12 years in this discipline, as well as being accredited as a mediator for dispute resolution.